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Atlanta has made Amazon’s HQ2 (sort of) shortlist!

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Says Amazon official: “Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough”

A photo of where plans for a mega-project in The Gulch are moving forward as Amazon scouts cities for a perfect HQ2 landing spot. Coincidence?
Plans for a mega-project in The Gulch have been moving forward as Amazon scouts cities for a perfect HQ2 landing spot. Coincidence?
Curbed Atlanta

Atlanta is one step closer to landing the biggest corporate windfall of a generation.

Ditto for 19 other places in the U.S. and Canada.

E-commerce giant Amazon has whittled down a list of 238 cities vying for its potentially city-altering second headquarters (HQ2) to 20 finalists—a shortlist that includes Atlanta, as many observers predicted.

Amazon expects to build “a full equal” to its current Seattle headquarters, eventually investing more than $5 billion in the city it chooses and creating up to 50,000 jobs with salaries averaging $100,000. Metros with more than 1 million residents across North America were eligible.

Additionally, the company expects that ancillary jobs related to HQ2—construction, building operations, etc.—will number in the tens of thousands.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough—all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, an Amazon Public Policy head, in a press release today. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Without further ado, here are Amazon’s 20 finalists as provided by the company, in alphabetical order:

- Atlanta, GA

- Austin, TX

- Boston, MA

- Chicago, IL

- Columbus, OH

- Dallas, TX

- Denver, CO

- Indianapolis, IN

- Los Angeles, CA

- Miami, FL

- Montgomery County, MD

- Nashville, TN

- Newark, NJ

- New York City, NY

- Northern Virginia, VA

- Philadelphia, PA

- Pittsburgh, PA

- Raleigh, NC

- Toronto, ON

- Washington D.C.

Noticeably absent on the list are several cities that seemed to have high hopes of hooking the jobs-creating whopper, including Detroit, Houston, and Charlotte, a Southeastern competitor of Atlanta.

Besides Atlanta, other regional cities still in the running include Raleigh, Miami, and Sun Belt brethren Dallas and Austin. Toronto is the lone city to make the cut outside the U.S.

In coming months, per the Amazon release, the company “will work with each of the [remaining] candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.”

Amazon still expects to name the winning city in 2018.

One unique aspect working in Atlanta’s favor is options, in terms of developable land. Bezos and Co. could choose from airport adjacency (Aerotropolis), an underdeveloped sports and government district (the Gulch), or a less-crowded inner suburb (Doraville’s Assembly mega-project).

Numerous reports, however, indicate the transit-connected, centralized Gulch is the location being pitched the hardest.

In likely related news, Los Angeles-based CIM Group has been moving forward the past couple of months with a truly massive reimagining of the Gulch. The underused site was recently approved for substantial tax breaks, should the right corporate suitor (cough, Amazon, cough cough) come along.

According to a highly scientific Curbed Atlanta poll last year, more than 60 percent of Atlantans are optimistic, at least, that the Big Peach has a real shot of landing what’s been called a corporate score of Olympic proportions.